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12 pointsI concur with Jacko's depressing but realistic view of the future in Patts. I've long ceased to go to agogos except on crawls, there is an air of desperation rather than fun in many beer bars, and my beloved Soi 6 is a shadow of its former self for reasons already discussed on the board. I think there has been a concerted and planned project on the part of government to change the nature ("quality") of the tourists who visit Patts. It began to bite at around the time FLB started struggling, the Soi 9, Soi 2 and 3 bars were demolished, and Soi 8 was made unfriendly by knocking 10-15 bars down for one hotel. This project has accelerated under the military regime, and it's working very well for them if one takes this to mean discouraging the sex scene and thereby making Patts less attractive to Farang. Let's be fair, farang have made a major contribution to the wealth of Patts and the economic prospects of many, many Thai families in the boonies, and unless that income is replaced by visitors of a different nature and spending power, lots of small Thai businesses and jobs will inevitably disappear. The exchange rate problem has unfortunately worked in favour of this project. It's equally true that the attraction of Patts to the Chinese/Korean tour groups and Indians is precisely the seedy reputation it has, i.e. the flag-following tours of WS and Soi 6 for the thrill of open eroticism that is absolutely taboo back home. The sex scene at large earns nothing from the Chinese, very little from the Koreans and Japs, and only hard-haggled amounts from the Indians - all in all far, far less than was to be had from the Farang they have decided should be discouraged from coming here. So will the Asian influx take up the slack in terms of Thai incomes? Hardly. Despite a population exceeding 1 billion, word will eventually get around China that visiting Patts to be dragooned around shops selling Chinese-made goods, with precious few other attractions - least of all its beach - is not worth doing. I predict a sudden plunge in Chinese visitor numbers to Patts in around 5 years. The more spoiled and sophisticated Koreans (also usually couples) will smell that coffee even sooner, and only their mongers will come here soon. The Russians are negligible in the equation. And the Indians? Literally dozens of Indian restaurants have suddenly sprung up, perhaps for money-laundering or because the business-savvy Indians predict a large market for their own kind. They also employ almost only their own kind, not Thais, and, if they become too numerous and influential, will encounter resentment that Farang were never made to feel. Indians will not be a major source of employment for Thais in Patts, who risk being displaced with only the landlords welcoming the influx. The Arabs (to use the collective name)? Mongers who eat in their own restaurants and stay in their own areas, living four to a room in the back sois, refusing to bang anything weighing less than 15 stones. In short, in economic terms for the Thai bargirl, dancer, massage worker, shopkeeper, launderess, bus driver etc. etc. the demographic change encouraged by their government will spell hardship that has a knock-on effect back in the boonies, while the massive malls will wonder where serious, paying customers are to come from. This is a case of the rich and powerful investing in a major tourist infrastructure for their own interests, and hang the little people who are unfortunate enough not to have cooking or other, hotel-related skills. They may well regret that investment. Thai travel agencies, airport bus services, tour guides will suffer, as these consumer groups use their own. The list goes on and on. Patts will end up with a huge, self-sufficient Indian population that pushes Thais aside, very few diehard Farang here and there, and oodles of empty hotel rooms when other Asians realise that the town has bugger all for them to spend a holiday on. At least the bloody tourist buses will gradually disappear I suppose.
11 pointsCheers Butch. Last night I again visited LKM where I observed the difference between a successful bar and what must be a failing one. The successful one was obviously Billabong where they play a range of popular Western music, a few popular Thai numbers and sell booze at very reasonable prices and have very little drink poncing. Most seats were taken and the place was heaving as it usually is most nights of the week even in low season. I later popped into Paradise Agogo a bar with a completely different set up. Admittedly a bit late in the evening at about 1.30am. There were three falangs in there, me, another punter with a girl in tow and the middle aged manager with the baseball cap on. As soon as my drink arrived I was joined by two vultures who sat either side of me and without even asking my name one of 'em asked me to buy 'em a drink each. I had to laugh with amazement at their nerve but refused the request telling them it was too peng (expensive) then the other one made the same request and that was also refused. It was hard to hear them or make myself heard as the DJ was playing a deafening racket that was loud even out in the street. This hullabaloo was negro rap with the usual constant references to n*ggers, motha fukkas, cocaine and cock suckas etc. Surely whoever owns it or runs the place must realise that the middle aged and elderly Western blokes who represent the majority of LKM's punters have no interest in listening to such filth and should in their own interest rectify the situation. It reminded me of Secrets and the clowns that ran it. I dunno what it was like earlier in the evening but if a sweep was held regarding which will be the next GGB in LKM to go tits up this is the one I'd put my money on. What a contrast to Billabong. You'd at least think the owner would get a new DJ or make the existing one play music people like listening to and at a reasonable volume. Or perhaps the DJ runs the place.
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